Japan’s premier challenged in ruling party leadership race

August 26th, 2010 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, Aug 26 (IANS) Ichiro Ozawa, dubbed as kingpin of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), said Thursday he will run in the ruling party’s leadership election next month.
“I decided to run in the election as former prime minister Yukio Hatoyama said he will give me full support,” the former DPJ secretary general told reporters in Tokyo, Xinhua reported.

Political experts believed that Ozawa was the mastermind behind the DPJ’s historic ousting of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the general election last September and is sniffing around the DPJ leadership post as he is unhappy with the way Prime Minister Naoto Kan is running the government.

Kan failed to consolidate his party’s power in the recent upper house elections and conceded that his comments on tax hikes were largely to blame for the DPJ’s debacle.

Ozawa stepped down from the DPJ’s post due to political fund scandals, but remains a widely influential figure within the ruling party. Kan has distanced himself from Ozawa.

According to Kyodo News, Hatoyama, who until Tuesday had publicly supported Kan’s re-election, said he will now back Ozawa in the race.

Reacting to Ozawa’s decision to run in the election, Kan said: “It is very good.”

“The DPJ has held a party presidential election many times but has never been torn up because of that,” Kan said at a meeting with lawmakers of the party.

Public opinion polls have showed Kan ahead of other potential DPJ leaders.

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